Basic Parts of a Chimney and Fireplace

Your chimney and fireplace are an important part of your life, especially during the winter months.

But just how much do you know about your chimney?

Most people would be hard-pressed to name all the parts of a chimney, let alone explain why each component is essential.

Read on to learn why knowing more about the parts of a fireplace and chimney is vital to the safety of your home.

Why It’s Important to Know about Fireplace and Chimney Parts

The main reason homeowners and renters need to know about the parts of a chimney stack and fireplace is safety. After all, you’re dealing with fire and smoke, two things that can cause damage to your home and your health.

Fortunately, when you know about the various parts of a chimney and how to properly care for them, you can protect your family and property.

Another reason why it’s vital to know more about the parts of a brick chimney is that you’ll be more aware of when problems arise. That, in turn, will allow you to address problems early, thereby saving you time and money, in addition to protecting your home.

More than Bricks: The 10 Basic Parts of a Chimney

Many people think a fireplace and chimney are the same. Actually, the fireplace is just one component. There are many other parts of a chimney that are crucial to the safety and performance of your fireplace and chimney units. Here are the chimney parts you need to know about.

The Bricks

The bricks are the foundation of your chimney. If they’re in poor condition, your safety is at risk, as is the structural integrity of your chimney. At the very least, your fireplace won’t perform optimally.

Another risk you run if your bricks are damaged is that moisture will get into your house, which can lead to damage, as well as mold and mildew.

Chimney Flue

Though often confused, the chimney flue is not the same thing as a chimney liner. The flue is a vertical shoot that allows combustion materials to exit your home. Homeowners are required by law to line the flue.

Chimney Liner

A chimney liner confines fire to the chimney, preventing it from spreading through your home. Clay tiles are the most common liners because they’re a long-lasting, economical choice.

Liners aren’t one-size-fits-all, so you might need to add a new liner if you’re installing a new fireplace. The liner needs to fit the appliance or else you’ll increase your risk of indoor pollution.

Liners must be replaced as soon as a crack develops – even if it’s small. Until the liner is replaced, you should not use your fireplace.

Chimney Cap

A chimney cap prevents elements from the outdoors from getting into your home, including:

  • Rain
  • Snow
  • Sleet
  • Downdrafts
  • Debris (leaves, branches)
  • Animals

Chimney caps also prevent roof fires because the wire mesh acts as a spark guard.

Chimney Chase Covers

A chase cover is found on top of prefabricated, factory-built chimneys and is used to cover the opening of the chimney. Chase covers can be made from a variety of materials, such as:

  • Copper
  • Aluminum
  • Stainless steel
  • Galvanized steel

Copper and stainless steel are the top choices because of their durability. Aluminum covers are popular because they can come in various colors. Galvanized steel covers are temporary solutions as they’re susceptible to rust.

Chimney Flashing

Flashing is made of vinyl, aluminum, copper, or steel and is placed where the chimney meets your roof. The purpose of chimney flashing is to protect your chimney, roof, and the rooms below from moisture penetration.

If you want to learn more about chimney flashing, you can read our blog post here.

Chimney Crown

A chimney crown, also known as a chimney wash, is a slab of cement that covers the top of the chimney. While the chimney cap covers the opening of the flue, the crown covers the whole top of the chimney. The crown prevents water from entering the chimney.

Fireplace Damper or Throat Damper

Dampers are also referred to as throat dampers because they’re located in the throat of the chimney above the firebox.

The damper seals the fireplace when it’s not in use so that heated air in your home doesn’t escape through the chimney. When your fireplace is in use, be sure that your damper is open so that the smoke can escape up the flue.

Smoke Chamber

The smoke chamber is located between the flue and the damper. The smoke chamber compresses combustion byproducts so they can exit through the chimney rather than reentering your home.

Fireplace Components

The parts of a fireplace include:

  • Firebox: Where the fire actually burns
  • Hearth: The floor within the fireplace
  • Mantel: Now a decorative frame around the fireplace, it used to serve as a smoke catcher in medieval times
  • Glass doors: Besides giving you a nice view of the fire, glass doors serve as a protective barrier
  • Fireplace insert: A fireproof box that fits into an existing fireplace
  • Ash dump: A door in the middle of the firebox that allows for easy removal of ash
  • Ash pit: A compartment at the base of a fireplace that catches ash
  • Cleanout door: A door in the chimney that’s behind the fireplace or outside the house where debris can be removed

Have Questions about Your Chimney? Ask Your Chimney Sweep

If you’re concerned that parts of a chimney in your home might not be functioning properly, get an expert opinion. A chimney sweep can evaluate the safety and performance of your brick fireplace and chimney stack. Based on their assessment, they can recommend necessary repairs and help you stick to a regular chimney maintenance schedule.

Wonder if your chimney is in good shape? Contact us today to have one of our skilled chimney sweeps evaluate your chimney and fireplace.

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